A "Today" Book Club selection, Chris Abani's debut novel Graceland tells the hypnotic story of a young boy coming of age in Nigeria, a country characterized by violence, poverty and political unrest. Set in the 1970s and '80s, the book recounts the adventures of protagonist Elvis Oke, who likes to impersonate his famous namesake and dreams of one day immigrating to America. The book moves back and forth between Elvis' childhood, during which his mother dies of cancer, and his teenage years in a Lago ghetto, where he becomes increasingly disillusioned with the condition of his homeland. A constant factor in Elvis' life is his hostile fatheran irredeemable alcoholic who beats him. With his close friend Redemption, Elvis nurses the hope of leaving Nigeria. But the difficulties of daily survival lead him into a life of crime, and he is soon involved in Lago's dark underworld, where he meets a remarkable cast of characters, including the unforgettable King of Beggars. Recipes from Elvis' dead mother, as well as excerpts from her diary, crop up periodically in the narrative, lending it a special authenticity. The novel is vivid and immediate, offering readers a unique portrait of Nigeria, where the native culture struggles to hold its own despite the inevitable encroachment of the West. This is a masterful debut from Abani. A reading group guide is available in print and online at www.picadorusa.com.